Flyers on brink of elimination

By JAY BOEHMER
Staff Writer — jboehmer@highhopesblog.com

_______

Brian Boucher, who has been largely responsible for the Flyers' success thus far, drops his head during a break in the action. (Photo: Steven M. Falk/ Philly.com)

The Flyers got what they wanted.  After consecutive games in which they suffered from an inexplicably slow start and fell behind, they finally came out with a burst of energy and tallied the first goal.

Unfortunately, their first (and so far only) lead of the series was shortlived.  Minutes after Claude Giroux saucered a pretty pass to a streaking Arron Asham for the 1-0 lead, the Bruins’ Blake Wheeler deflected a far wide shot back on net and past Boucher to tie the game up.

Almost immediately after the tying goal, Boston seemed determined to put themselves on top.  Flyers captain Mike Richards laid a hit on David Krejci at the offensive blue line that had him leave the ice with a separated shoulder.  The bouncing puck he left go found its way to a wide open Miroslav Satan, left uncovered as the man covering him leapt over the fallen Krejci.  Satan beat Boucher one on one after selling a deke and putting it in backhand.

Aside from these few momentary lapses, the Flyers controlled the play throughout the first two periods.  The scoring chances weren’t there in great numbers thanks to a tight defensive perimeter around Tuukka Rask and the Boston goal, but the shots were still coming.  Going into the third period, the Flyers had outshot their opponents 27-17, yet still trailed two goals to one.

Unfortunately, the third period was not going to continue in such fashion.  Within the first minute, the Flyers behind fell on the penalty kill.  Former Flyer Mark Recchi cashed in with a backdoor rebound after a point shot by Bruins captain Zdeno Chara fell at the feet of the Flyers’ defensemen.

With a two goal lead, the Bruins fell into a very conservative “trap” style, with four men falling back to clog up the neutral zone.  Instead of dumping and chasing, as any team should when faced with this kind of defense, the Flyers continued to try to skate through it.  Time and time again the puck was stolen right off their sticks.  Frustration mounted.  The chances weren’t coming any easier.

That’s ultimately how the game ended, with the Flyers struggling to produce offense as they had earlier in the evening, and Boston sitting back and relaxing on their two goal lead, which became a three goal lead after the empty net goal by Patrice Bergeron.

After this frustrating performance, in which they attempted nearly three times as many shots as their black and gold counterparts, the Flyers look to recover and salvage any hope of continuing this playoff run with a win at home on Friday.

They would need to win four games in a row, two of which being at home, in order to move out of this three game hole and see the next round.  All signs point to this as impossible.  The question is only a matter of whether they’ll fall in the next game, or the one after that.

KEYS TO THE GAME:

 

Miroslav Satan: With only 14 points in 38 games of the regular season, Satan certainly doesn’t seem like the Bruin’s major threat.  However, his 10 points in 9 games of these playoffs, including five goals (three of which are game winners), he’s certainly shown up to play.

Tuukka Rask: He was not called on to make many spectacular saves, but Rask was there all night to make every save he needed to.  After giving up a goal on the Flyers’ first shot of the game, he went on to stop 34 in a row for a .971 save percentage.

Claude Giroux: One of few bright spots in an otherwise dismal game, the young NHL sophomore continues to show skill and poise beyond his years.  This underrated playmaker takes time with the puck and always manages to thread his passes through.  Look for him to have a long and successful career.

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